Index of Articles in Frank's Corner of Sailing Texas
To: All those who, when they get through reading this, will become "Ghost Lovers"
The Ghost 13 is one of the most (in my opinion) incredible small sailboats produced. I can explain.
First, my credentials: In 1971, I went to work for Howdy King at King Marine Sailboats here in Indianapolis, Ind. At that time the Indianapolis Sailing club held the reputation of being the most active racing club in the US. Our Club's thistle fleet was the second largest in the association, the snipe fleet with over 40 boats was the, I believe, largest in the country, The laser fleet in the next 3 years rose to the, I again believe, the largest in the US with over 70 members. The club's Y Flyer fleet was the largest in the country at 28 when I became its fleet champion in 1970. At King Marine, we specialized in rebuilding, refinishing, and rigging racing sailboats. In 1971, King Marine became a Laser dealer, I bought Laser #795, and I started racing in the handicap fleet. In 1973, I bought one of the first windsurfers and became one of the first certified Windsurfing Instructors in the world. During the next three years, our Laser dealership became, I believe, number 1 in the world, in 1973 selling 49 new and used Lasers. Also, in 1980, we received a plaque for being the number 1 Holder Deal or in the Midwest. The Free University Sailing School I set up ran over 1000 students through the class in Indianapolis in 1980. In 1981, my own company sold 54 Force 5s making it the largest AMF Alcort Force 5 dealership in the world and the number 2 Alcort dealership in the Midwest.
In 1971, I patented the Tactical Sailing Compass. Sunto Comapss Company would go on to produce variations of this patent and using it become the largest compass manufacturer in the world.
In 1970, Performance Sail-craft in Chicago offered to buy I believe 400 Lasers from the new upstart Laser in Canada, the purchase contingent on their being given full distribution rights to all Lasers sold in the USA. What a deal! After successfuly becoming the US Laser distributor, they would later have that right taken away but after loosing the US distribution rights, they sued Performance Sailcraft of Canada and won, the win resulting in their receiving money for every Laser sold in the USA even though they were no longer a distributor or dealer.
Meanwhile, going back to 1969, the Sea Scouts in California developed a hull and sailboat for a project, the hull design later to be used by Janus Plastics as the precursor to the Ghost 13. Janis Plastics designed a deck for the Sea Scout hull that would have nearly full length seats allowing the sailor and 4 others to sit comfortably in the boat (yes 5 total) out of the wind. Janus designed the foot well so that it hung suspended well above the floor, high enough to make the cockpit self bailing. A 6" round flexible cover covered a sealed pocket on the floor, the pocket containing a plastic Holt Allen self baler. Stepping on the lid often punched it down into the hole, much aggravation! The area between the deck and bottom was water tight making it easy to sail out of a capsize.
Janus's engineers designed the top of the contineous seat backs so that they rolled over to form a narrow deck, the deck overhanging the water by 6 " the rolled edge deck providing comfortable hiking out. Mast side stays were run through the overhang making rigging super easy and inexpensive to manufacture. Prior to assembly, the top of the overhanging flaring of the hull was buttered up with a mixture of microbaloons and resin then the deck piece was sat down on the hull, the two pieces joined together by the microbaloon/resin mixture.
The first Janis boat's foot wells ran only to the dagerboard well, the seats running to the front deck area without foot well. A great feature of the Ghost was that the Janis engineers made the foot well wide enough so that on light air days you could lay down in the foot well and sail, the crew could sit in the front of the cockpit with feet laid out rearward and use the nicely curved front of the cockpit as a perfect armchair. Unlike the competing designs, you sit comfortably in the boat, out of the wind, not just on the deck.Now,that's sailing! Hull weight was 135 pound advertised, equal to the Laser, Force 5, and Sunfish Hull weights!, much lighter than the Holder 14 and hugely lighter than the Catalina. What we end up with is a Sunfish/Laser in size and weight that will cary 5, with full length seats and, did I mention, full length hiking straps?
Too much wind? Take down the jib sail and put the dagger board in the rear position. With the board in the rear postion the boat's steering helm balances out and sails perfectly with just the main sail. Head clearance on the Laser/Sunfish/Force 5 a problem? The Ghost 13 sail plan was designed with a high boom. the high boom making viability when sailing upwind outstanding, making the chance of getting knocked on the head while jibing almost non existent and last making changing sides while tacking almost effortless.There is a reason why the Fin sailors-470 sailors have a window in the mainsail! Does the foot well on your Sunfish-Laser-Force 5 hold 5 beer drinking sailors, all stretched out and comfortable? For hull stiffness, urethane foam pieces were glassed into the bottom. These hulls were vary durable. The only failures in hull I have seen were cracks under the overhanging deck. These cracks occurred as a result of the tie down straps being too tight when on the trailer. When tailoring, don't over tighten the tie down straps!
Janus did a great job with gel coat, adding a flexibleizer to the gel-coat then putting it on thick. The flexible gel coat resisted crazing and hairline cracks, the generous thickness allowing for many buff outs without going through the gel. Why can't all small sailboat manufacturers do this? The thick gel coat makes it easy to take an old sun dulled boat and buff it back up like new. The original dagger board pivoted front and back. The pivoting board was controlled by a flexible hinged handle hooked to the top of the hydrodynamic shaped fiberglass daggerboard, the handle topped by a T on its end, that T, while sailing, placed in one of two slots at the top of the daggerboard trunk. The flexible T was designed to pop out allowing the dagger to swing into the hull in the event of a grounding. Placing the T in the rear slot forced the underwater part of the board to swing rearward, the rearward position ideal l for sailing on reaches, sailing in high wind, and last, sailing with just the mainsail. When the T was flipped forward and put in the front slot, the below hull part of the dagger board swung forward, the forward dagger-board position recommended for light wind and beating upwind.
The rudder was fiberglass with microballoon interior. Kick up and durable. If your rudder's tiller does not have a hiking stick, get one. This will allow you to steer while sitting far forward, sitting on the seats or hiking out over the side. On all the boats we sold, we installed an optional RWO swiveling main sheet jamb cleat. I feel this swiveling jamb cleat is a must on any sailboat making the boat safer to sail much more enjoyable. The Janis version of the Ghost came with quick release jib leads that ran on tracks far outboard on the overhang, too far out. This position forced the boat to sail at a close reach when the sail is trimmed in tight for going upwind. On later models, the leads were moved inboard and screwed to the seats, the new inboard position allowing the boat to point much closer to the wind allowing the boat to sail upwind much more efficiently. The inboard cleats were also much closer the the center-line making releasing the jib cleat in heavy wind much easier, especially when the crew is on the rail hiked out. With the leads placed inboard Ghost points very high with the aerodynamic centerboard and inboard leads. Use the outboard leads for the optional Genoa sail. Put new leads with cleat inboard for the standard jib sail. To determine where to place the inboard leads, rig the boat on the trailer with the jib sail raised. aline the boat and trailer so that the boat is pointing on a tack upwind. Grab the jib sheat and hold it about half way outboard of the top of the seat. next, with the held tightly as if pulled in for going upwind, move the sheat position forward and aft until you find the point where the jib luffs simultaneously top to bottom. Place your jib cleat at this point.
Most of the customers who bought Ghosts from us bought the 115% Genoa option. This sail brings the sail area up to 145 squar feet and turns the Ghost into a light wind terror. Using a whisker pole holds the big genoa out on the down winds and is nearly as effective as flying a spinnaker sail. If the wind picks up too much, either roller furrel the genoa sail, take it down, or switch to the standard jib.
In 1971, I believe, One Design and Offshore magazine hosted a regatta they called the "Teacup regatta" at Lake Geneva Wisconsin, tended by Lake Geneva Playboy Club's bunnies no less! Sailboat factories were invited to race their car top boats and see "Who was the best". The Laser, the Windsurfer, and Ghost 13 were all three first introduced the the public at this regatta, the Laser being called TGIF or Weekender, the name shortly after the regatta changed to Laser. Hoyle Schwitzer brought a prototype of what was to become to the windsurfer to this regatta, the first time that windsurfer had ever been exposed to the public. In the regattas light wind "drifter" conditions, the Ghost 13 beat the Laser and all other entrants boat for boat and won all races.
Shortly before the regatta, Bruce Kirby, a writer for what became One Design and Off Shore magazine, designed the Laser while talking on the phone to Hans Fog Hans Fog built the prototype and Kirby got the magazine to put together the regatta hopefully to get the Laser out before the public. The boat was named variously the TGIF and the Weekender, but shortly after the regatta, Kirby's daughter suggested Laser and the name stuck. Within one year of the regatta, the laser sales passed up Sunfish sales to become the number 1 selling sailboat in the world and by 1981, windsurfing became the number 1 participation sport in the world. At the same time, Janus plastics went into production with the Ghost 13. A video Janus released to dealers soon after the regatta showed the ghost being easily lifted onto a car top carrier, and showed 5 people sailing comfortably down the lake in light wind. The boats name "Ghost" was derived for the term ghosting along in light wind.
Shortly after the regatta, Performance Sailcraft a company in South Chicago took on the Laser Distributorship for the Midwest and East of the United states. At the same time they became the Midwest distributor of Ghost 13. In three years King Marine became the number 1 dealer for Laser in the world selling 49 new and used in 1973 and number 1 for Janus selling 28 Ghosts 13s in 1973.
In 1972,, Janis made some changes to the cockpit that were great improvements. The foot-well was run clear to the front of the cockpit so a person could sit facing rearward in the arm chair ahead of the mast. The dagger board slot became an island in the new floor. The dagger board was made longer (faster sailing upwind) with a knob molded in at the top that could be slid forward or back in the trunk to balance the helm of the boat.
The distributor in Chicago discontinued selling sailboats after the Laser factory in Canada took away their Laser distributorship. Shortly after this, Janus started selling Ghosts direct to dealers with truckload discounts. In 1974, the Arab oil crisis made it difficult to get oil for fiberglass resin and many sailboat factories including Janus went out of business. The last truckloads of Ghosts came in without masts or rigging. After continuous promises from their then national sales manager that the missing parts were "on the way", Janus shut their doors and disconnected their phones. No Ghost. Janus's ex "honest Abe" national sales manager went on to become the International sales manager of Windsurfing International. Guess what? Windsurfer went under too.
In the late 70s Ernst Schmidt in a northern suburb of Chicago bought the molds and the rights and put the Ghost 13 back into production. Ernst made one change that made the Chicago built ghosts immediately recognizable. All of his boats had a nice large hole cut into the "Seat back" area at the front of the cockpit. The hole was backed in the area underneath the deck by a water tight insert that gave dry storage. The hole was located so that if the boat capsized, the storage hole stayed above capsized waterline. He also appointed me his "national sales manager". A term we joked about. That same year I represented AMF Alcort in Yachting Magazines One of a Kind regatta at lake Carlyle Ill sailing the puffer and being the alternate for the Force 5 for Alcort. Again, that same year, I represented Jensen Marine(Cal Sailboats) in Yachting Magazine's tailorable cruising boat "One of a Kind" Regatta at Annapolis Maryland. Last, the same year, I took 4th in the Force 5 North Americans out of 54 at Oshkosh, . Again that same summer, I was leading the Laser districts after the first 4 races out of 52 and ripped my sale in two the last race forcing withdrawal. After sailing and racing the Force 5, the Laser, Which boat would i rather sail and race? Answer: the Ghost 13.
In light wind the low wetted surface area "rounded" hull with its plenty of rocker gives the Ghost Ghost like speed. I took several new Ghost owners to Eagle Creek Lake for their first sail, always making sure to pick a day when the winds were light and "drifter" like. I would have the new owner point out a boat of his choice sitting dead in the glass smooth water. We would then rig the new boat launch it, put the trailer up, sail out to the dead in the water boat, sail around that selected boat, an then sail back to the dock. One such day the Eagle Creek Sailing Club Sunday race participants were strung along in front of the ramps heading down the lake to the next mark. the boats, in size up to J24s, in the light wind barely moving. We rigged the new owners Ghost, launched it, sailed out into the tail end of the boats racing. By the next turning , we had passed the entire club and by the finish line we were half a legg ahead of the second boat. No other boat I have sailed or raced has this light wind capability.
Kevin Pickard raced his ghost 13 all summer with the Eagle Creek club in the Portsmouth handicap fleet and won all races that year. On another occasion, I raced another customers new Ghost 13 with spinnaker in the "Handicap fleet" at the Indianapolis Sailing Clubs Labor Day Regatta, the regatta run in 0-5mph drifter winds, winds so light that only 1 race was sailed. By the first windward mark, we rounded first in the Portsmouth handicap fleet. On the way to the next (down wind) mark we came up behind the Snipe fleet that had started ahead of us, put up the spinnaker and passed the entire fleet on one leg of the course. The speed difference was so different that some of the sailors of the snipes and other boats we were passing started laughing. We lead the handicap fleet for most of the race but right at the finish line the (2) 470s that started in our handicap fleet got around us and finished boat for boat first and second. We repassed them as went back to the club house. Is the Portsmouth Yardstick number of 103 for the Ghost accurate? No.
Does the Ghost 13 Plane? Unreal. If you are a low experience level sailor, on a windy day get a top notch sailor to sail with you. The boat planes nose up. The boat absolutely flies on a plane. In the same high wind, the boat with 2 sails does not death role like the Laser-Force 5. The larger rudder, winged out jib-whisker pole, and relatively short boom greatly reduce or eliminate "death role" tendencies. The Ghost came with roller furling jib and the main can be lowered to a lower level to cut down the healing tendency in high wind. With the dagger board in the rear position, the helm balances out the the boat sails well as a single sail boat.
Maneuvering: The rudder is large, thick and airfoil shaped unlike the sunfish, force 5 and Laser. It sits back of the pivot point so that it can be used to scull the boat in light wind. The boat will scull about 2 miles per hour without any sails up, the sculling capability really helping the sailor get through a tack or maneuver into a dock in light wind. Unlike the Holder 14, Laser, Sunfish, and Force 5, the rounded hull and front to back deep rocker allow the ends of the boat to swing freely when turning at slow speed (light wind again?) better than any other boat I have sailed. Try that on a Hobie 14!
Can my gas miser pull this across the Rockies? Yep!
What more could one ask for? Answer: Someone to build the boat and market it correctly. The answer may not be too far off.
Last weekend, was driving around the south end of Cataract Lake, the lake as far away from anywhere as you can get in Indiana, when out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a small sailboat sitting on a trailer in a front yard of a dilapidated house. My God! it was a ghost 13 out in the middle of nowhere. After a short discussion about the boat with the non sailing owner he asked me if I would like to buy it. How much? I asked. $50 dollars and its yours. I had been looking for a hull to pull molds off of and start building the Ghost 13 and here it was laid in my lap Sitting on a Holdsclaw trailer. But $50.00?
What is in the future? Stay tuned.
Spike Selig "National Sales Manager" Ghost 13 email@example.com
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